The European Union has called on Turkey to refrain from actions damaging good neighbourly relations with EU members, in particular, by avoiding provocative actions in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ), European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said on Monday.
Since Friday, the Turkish Navy vessels have been blocking the Italian drill-ship Saipem 12000, which is conducting works for Italian oil company Eni in the Cypriot EEZ partially disputed with Turkey. Earlier in February, Eni and French Total have made a promising lean gas discovery in Block 6 offshore Cyprus.
"Turkey needs to commit to good neighbouring relations ... avoid any kind of source of friction, threat or action directed against a [EU] member state, which damages good neighbourly relations and peaceful settlement of disputes. Moreover, the EU also stresses the need to respect the sovereignty of member states over their territorial sea and airspace," Andreeva said.
Turkish authorities claim that the exploration activities violate the rights of the Cypriot Turks. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with the Greek Kathimerini newspaper on February 5 that Ankara did not recognize the eastern Mediterranean maritime border demarcation agreement, signed in 2013 by Egypt and Cyprus, which defines the areas where each side can extract the natural resource.
According to Çavuşoğlu, Turkish Cypriots, "as co-owners of the island of Cyprus," were not consulted when Cyprus announced its exclusive economic zone, and that they also have "inalienable rights" to the natural resources in the region. Cavusoglu added that Ankara was considering launching its own drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean soon.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said on Sunday that Turkey continues provocations in the Cypriot EEZ and noted that Nicosia intends to seek the cessation of violations of international law by Ankara.